Natural Home Remedies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a disorder affecting the large intestine and is diagnosed by its symptoms.

Image of a woman with her shirt pulled up to show "Out of Order" written on her belly

IBS is considered a chronic condition. There is no specific cause of this condition and triggers are different for different people.  You might have reactions to certain foods or imbalance of hormones could be the culprit.  There might be an underlying illness like gastroenteritis

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

PREVALENCE

Estimates are that about 14% of the US population suffers from IBS with only 3.3% medically diagnosed.

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

Medical treatment is apt to be medications for your symptoms and lifestyle changes.

SELF TREATMENT

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against disease and inflammation. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan.

Each person with IBS will have different “trigger” foods, those things that make you feel worse. The following lists are general in nature and it would be wise to keep a food and flare-up diary for a while so that you can identify your personal culprits. Or try an elimination diet.

FOODS THAT MAY PROMOTE HEALING

  • Anti-inflammatory foods (see Inflammation)
  • Bone broth
  • High-fiber foods for some and low-fiber foods for others

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES THAT MAY AGGRAVATE IBS

  • Acidic foods
  • Alcohol
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Cashews
  • Cauliflower
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy
  • Eat only enough lean, high quality protein to sustain your lean body mass at your activity level, and no more.
  • Excess fats
  • Fried and greasy foods
  • Gluten
  • Large meals
  • Legumes
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Pistachios
  • Processed foods
  • Smoking
  • Spicy foods
  • Sugars
  • Wheat

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • Aloe Vera juice
  • Amalaki
  • Anise
  • Apple Cider Vinegar in water
  • Berry teas
  • Cabbage juice
  • Caraway
  • Cardamom
  • Chamomile
  • Cinnamon
  • Dandelion
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Green
  • Hibiscus
  • Lemon balm
  • Peppermint
  • Slippery elm

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Amalaki (Ayurveda)
  • Artichoke leaf extract
  • Fennel seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Slippery elm
  • Triphala (capsules will go down easier than powder in water as it has a bitter taste)

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically on your skin in a carrier oil (coconut, almond, olive, etc.) or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath or compress. Find recipes for blends on the web or create your own.

  • Anise
  • Caraway
  • Clove
  • Coriander
  • DigestZen (commercial blend)
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Frankincense
  • Ginger
  • Juniper berry
  • Lemon
  • Oregano
  • Patchouli
  • Peppermint
  • Peppermint oil
  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need.

  • Calcium carbonate for diarrhea
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Edible Clay
  • Iberogast (plant extract liquid)
  • Magnesium
  • Omega 3’s
  • Prebiotics
  • Probiotics
  • Psyllium (but getting your fiber from food is better)

HYDRATION

If you have diarrhea, you will need to drink extra water. If you have constipation you may need more fiber and water. Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½-1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

Exercise aids the digestive tract in a variety of ways. Exercise will keep things moving through your system and may minimize stress, which is a common trigger. That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can do without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stress is a common trigger for IBS, so stay calm. Anxiety undermines health in a multitude of ways. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend. Do what works for you to stay mellow.

SLEEP

Sleep disturbances will make your IBS worse (studies say 1.6 times more likely). It’s catch-22 because having IBS is likely to wake you more in the night.

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Check for parasites.
  • Don’t chew gum.
  • Eat at regular times.
  • Gargling and Gagging
  • Go for fermented dairy products if regular products cause trouble for you.  Try yogurt and kefir.
  • Salt Water Cure or Salt Flush
  • Some people claim success with drinking a pint of warm liquid in the mornings, followed by breakfast 45 minutes later.
  • Use a heating pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen when you are in pain.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

PREVENTION

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Adequate hydration
  • Regular exercise
  • Low stress levels
  • Quality sleep

 

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